Part Two: A Sure Foot Upon the Path

NSFW Warning: Erotic Imagery

Disclaimer: I do not own the cover image.

Here begins part two of “The Forest Mother Saga.” In order to enjoy this tale to its fullest extent, be sure to also read Part One: A summons Extended. Thank you for your patronage as ever and please let me know how you find my work, enjoy!

Leeria awoke the following morning just before the dawn, still groggy from sleep, as well as the amount of alcohol she had imbibed the night prior. She lay for a time amidst the hay, curled in on herself as she had but her woodland cloak covering her nakedness, the medallion of her guild clutched in her hand.

Though she had slept only fitfully, she had dreamed, or at least she thought she had for it may also have been another vision. The fact that she could not discern between the two possibilities disturbed her greatly. 

Whether it had been dream or vision she had seen the Forest Mother once more, seated upon a throne of knotted roots and twisted ivy. As she had been in the images she had given the Ranger whilst she made love to the stableboy, she had been fully nude in the dream-vision, her legs spread wide while she toyed with the slit of her sex, appearing not unlike the ripled folds of a freshly blooming flower pushing forth from the confines of its pod. Her other hand had gripped fully one of her voluptuous breasts, kneading the pillowy flesh so that droplets of thick, honey-colored milk beaded forth before splashing unheeded upon her thighs. 

How the Ranger had wanted to lap at those spilled drops, tasting the sweet nectar, as well as feel the smoothness of the Forest Mother’s flesh against her tongue. This had only served to further ignite the desire Leeria had continued to feel throughout the night’s long hours. Not unlike gentle waves lapping upon a shoreline did it feel to her now, and the fact that she knew some otherworldly force played upon that desire, not unlike the moon upon the tide, made the comparison all the more apt.

Furthermore, she was quite certain that her medallion was all that kept the cravings at a dull ache, rather than an overwhelming need that would no doubt have sent her charging into the forest to seek out the self declared ‘Mother’ as soon as she was able. 

She knew that the pendants gifted to The Sisterhood of the Rising Moon were blessed by Druids to ward off evil, or at least warn of ill intent. If her wearing it lessened the effects of the Forest Mother’s influence then surely that must mean she was a malign spirit of some form who wished to ensnare the Ranger. If that were the case then it was in Leeria’s best interest to ride as far from that particular forest as she could and never return. 

With a frustrated growl, she stomped to her feet, striding to the window, which she had left open, to gaze upon the first rays of the dawn breaking the mountain tops, drenching them in hues of red and orange.

‘I’m a Ranger!’ She berated herself angrily. ‘Mine creed is not to run but to fight. I am a defender of good, not a victim of evil. If this spirit might seek to ensnare me then she has done similarly to others. Who would I be if I ran from this?’

Resolutely, she decided that into the forest she would go to confront the self-proclaimed Forest Mother. She would do this, she told herself, to defend innocents from falling into the spirit’s web, whilst doing her best to ignore the not so subtle pulling upon her innermost lusts she still felt within her.

Shortly thereafter, she strode down from the Weeping Willow’s loft, fully armed and armored to find Drugan seated at the bar, a blurry look in his eye and a steaming mug of strongly scented tea gripped before him.

“You seem chipper this morning,” he commented dryly at her approach. “These years of idleness have certainly taken a toll on these old bones of mine. There was a day when I too would have bounced right back from a night of heavy carousing but…” He sighed deeply, “long gone are those days.”

“What do you know of a spirit who calls herself the “Forest Mother?” She asked without preamble, setting her hands on hips before him. 

Peering at her closely, the barkeep snorted. 

“Not so chipper after all,” he said, shaking his head. “You give me hope yet, Ranger.”

“Don’t dodge my question, Drugan,” she adamantly persisted. “Have any local legends spoken of such a being in these parts?”

Heaving yet another sigh, the barkeep took a long sip of his tea before reply, and when he did he did not meet her gaze.

“There is a local legend,” he spoke slowly, as if trying to recall finer details through the fog of his hangover. “That speaks of a forest spirit that calls itself the “Forest Mother”, though whether or not this being is good is not mentioned. It is said that the creature calls to travellers that it dictates to be worthy and summons them to its side.”

“What does she do with them once they reach her side?”

“Of that there is no words, only that they are never seen again. The only person I have ever known to have delved into the forest in search of the being was a Hedge Knight I met shortly after taking ownership of this here tavern. Bregansworth was his name, or at least as much as he told me. He came through fleeing a life he had decided was no longer worth living. Had a certain sadness to him, as though he carried a good many regrets alongside his bedroll and blade. He stuck around for a time, helped out among the farmsteads and became fairly well-liked for it.”

“How did he end up searching for the Forest Mother?”

Drugan shrugged.

“One day he claimed to have gotten a vision. Some fairy queen trapped in the depths of the forest calling for his aid. Claimed she was chained by foul sorcery or some such. People got worried as his visions brought to mind the old tales of a witch of the wood who sometimes referred to herself as the Forest Mother. In any case Bregansworth would not be deterred and into the forest he went, never to be seen again…”

He fell silent, blinking at her as if seeing her for the first time. Seemingly having shrugged at least a small amount of hangover malaise, his eyes narrowed.

“Why the sudden interest in the local legends?” He asked, a wariness creeping into his tone.

Leeria sighed. There wasn’t much point in hiding the reasons for her inquiry, though she knew how he would inevitably respond.

“I too received a vision last night,” she confessed. “Though that which appeared to me did so less as a plea and more so as an enticement.”

Surprising her, Drugan did not interrupt, though his attention upon her was rapt, prompting her to continue.

“They were strong at first, these visions,” she continued. “And lessened only when I replaced my medallion about my neck, though only just…”

“The sigil of your guild,” he nodded sagely. “Your ilk use it to ward off evil do they not?”

“Most often we use its magics to warn us of the presence of evil, it is not in our creed to run from it.”

“Then you mean to enter the forest.”

Leeria blinked, taken aback by his shrewd deduction of her motives.

“Well…yes,” she replied lamely.

“Well then I shall accompany you,” he declared, making to push himself to a standing position.

“You most certainly will not!” She exclaimed, shocked anew by his transposing of her expectations.

“Like hell I won’t,” he shot back grimly, hauling himself to his feet determinedly. 

“Drugan!” She rushed to his side as his steps faltered, a grimace encapsulating his face as his old leg injury flared beneath his weight.

“Be reasonable!” She hissed into his ear. “I know you yearn for adventure and resent your idleness but by the goddess you must know that coming with me will hinder more than it would help!”

He sighed, deflating in her grip, allowing her to guide him back to his seat.

“You are correct, forgive me,” he winced, moving his sore leg to a less painful position. “Take all that you will from my stores and, for the sake of any and all divines goodly folk pray to, be careful. That forest holds many dangers, even to a Ranger.”

“At least your madness has passed,” she smirked at him, though concern yet persisted in her gaze. “Here I thought I was the one losing my wits only to have you outperform me in both insanity and bravery.”

“Odd isn’t it how often those two go hand in hand,” was his rueful reply as she made for his pantry.

Grabbing a few days’ rations as well as a pair of extra waterskins, she retreated once more from the pantry and towards the tavern door. She paused briefly beside the innkeep, concern lingering within her. Leaning forward, she planted a light kiss upon his brow before hurrying away.

“Leeria,” he called after her, giving her pause in the inn’s doorway. She looked back at him, beholding the mixture of pain and concern in his eyes, akin to a parent fearful they may never see their child again.

“Please be careful,” he said. “I know you Rangers walk a lonely path but do not forget that there are those who care for you that you leave behind.”

She smiled sadly at him, a lone tear welling up and falling from the corner of her eye.

“Thank you, Drugan,” she said, before turning firmly and striding away, the tear being wiped away by the back of her hand.

Outside, the sun had fully risen, though a biting chill yet clung to the morning breeze. At the courtyard’s center, the stableboy stood, the reins of her horse gripped in his hand, an expectant look in his eyes.

“I must leave her in your care,” she told him and he cocked his head in confusion. Laying a comforting hand on her mare’s muzzle, she stroked it gently, though her gaze remained locked with his. 

“I go into the forest,” she told him. “There is a potential evil there that I must banish. Do not await my return for I do not know how long I shall be and…” 

Her next words caught in her throat as she had meant to say “…and if I don’t return…” but couldn’t bring herself to. What was wrong with her? Why was she getting all choked up over saying farewell to those she had said so to numerous times before? Clearing her throat forcibly, she pushed herself to continue.

“Just take care of her until my return,” was all she could say. 

He nodded firmly, seemingly understanding perfectly that which she had been unable to say. Appreciating him all the more for it, she leaned in and, capturing his lips in hers, offered him a deep and passionate kiss. Wrenching their lips apart, she strode from him, her cloak snapping in the breeze as she made for the palisade gate and beyond, onto the open road.

As soon as her boots crunched upon the hard-packed earth of the road, she paused, inhaling deeply the fresh, clean mountain air and pushing any thoughts of hesitancy far to the back of her mind. As soon as her mind cleared, an image flashed of the voluptuous Forest Mother, seated upon her throne of twisted roots, her legs spread wide, the smile curving her lips both hungry and inviting.

Yes, come to me child,” her melodious voice sounded in Leeria’s head. “Come and suckle at your mother’s bosom, taste that nectar which is sweetest.”

Forcing her eyes open, the Ranger shook her head, attempting vainly to detach the image from her mind’s eye. A cheerful laughter filled her thoughts, both mocking and joyous. 

“All right, Forest Mother,” she muttered to herself, her lips set in a determined grimace. “Let us see what manner of spirit you are.”

Setting her strides towards the forest’s eaves, she set off at a quick jog, splashing across a merry brook that splashed along the roadside, and disappearing into the dense foliage beyond. 

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